The sound of troubled sleep interrupts the peacefulness of water filtering back into the large aquarium where exotic fish swim around and through coral.

The fluorescent lighting that brightens the coral’s vivid colors brings a warmth to the bedroom, projecting a soft glow across the desk and the computer beside it, the towering twin bookshelves, the nightstand cutoff at the legs and the similarly cut bed frame keeping its mattress inches off the floor. It casts a contrasting feeling of calm about the teenager and his two large dogs as he struggles to stay asleep and they lay at peace.

Three timid knocks rouse Mustafa, the larger of the two dogs.

Ears perked, he raises his head and looks about, until soon, his attention settles on the hallway. He watches it steadily for several seconds, then looks to his still sleeping master and HUFFS a low warning.

Marcillius, tangled amid the dogs and the comforter, stirs, sliding his casted leg from beneath the comforter, then shushes Mustafa before making a show of returning to his troubled sleep and his unfinished dream.


Back in the dream, Marcillius stands ashore looking out to the abandoned church in the center of the lake. He watches the waves wash over the stairs leading to the entrance. When the sound behind him returns, of the woman in the ripped white dress tearing through the woods, he looks.

She is still running, finally making it closer to the shore. He watches her run into the water and high-step through it.

Resignedly, he looks farther back into the woods knowing what he’ll see next; the three men relentlessly giving chase and The Man in Purple following them, his long stride indifferent to theirs, a stride accustomed to success. He’ll see that long blood-stained knife The Man In Purple carries.

(to the woman)

This way! Ruunnn!

Beckoning her toward him, he hurriedly looks back, to judge the distance to the sanctuary of the church. He finds he is halfway there, wading in the water, ripples lapping against his chest.

Her splashing toward him is loud. The wind’s blowing through trees and rustling leaves is loud. But the men’s heavy breathing and breaking tree branches as they run through them, it’s even louder; a testament to their dedication to catch her.

Without warning, her tear-stained face appears before him smudged, worn.


Why are they trying to kill me? What did I do?

(grabbing him by the arm)

I don’t want to die.

She digs her nails deep emphasizing how much she doesn’t want to die, then suddenly eases her grip before the pain becomes unbearable; her face filling with resolve.


I won’t die. I won’t. This is only a dream and I will make it out. I’ll wake and be in my bed. I never really die in my dreams. I can’t. I won’t.


Are you crazy?

It’s obvious she’s wrong. When the men reach them, the men will kill them both, who cares if they’re supposed to be able to. They’ve killed others. The Man In Purple has ordered it.

Marcillius stops struggling to break free of her grip and grabs her, pulling her with him toward the church. Kicking with all of his might as he swims backwards, he watches the three swimming for her, for him.

The closer they come, the more terrifying their appearance becomes.


Swim and don’t stop!

As they near the stairs, he quickly tosses aside each useless idea to save them and fights against the hopelessness.

The rap on the door and another woof, both louder than the splashing water, draws his attention from the imminent danger.


Waking with a start, Marcillius lays still, catching his breath until he realizes he’s alone in his room, that the dream is over and the danger has passed; along with the chance to save her.


Come on, who doesn’t know I’m sleeping? I sleep every day.

(pounding the pillow)

I could have figured it out too. I could have saved her.

He looks to the dogs, trying to convey in his expression that he would have saved her had he not been woke.

Cashmere snores undisturbed, but Mustafa watches him, head tilted to a side not understanding.

Giving himself time to calm down before sitting up, he settles for the possibility that she might have defied the likely outcome, in spite of his failing. Once calm, he rises and pats Mustafa’s head, again trying to share his regret for failing He waits for that look that dogs sometimes give that says, somehow all will be okay.

It doesn’t come.

Dejected, he shakes his head and exhales slowly as he looks to the hallway.


Dad, the door.

Without waiting for a response, he grabs his dream journal from the nightstand and hurriedly jots down all he can recall. As he writes, he occasionally looks up, hoping it’s not Laurie at the door and if it is, that she’ll leave.

The patient knock sounds again assuring the unlikeliness of that.

He looks to Mustafa and grinds his teeth.


I bet it’s Laurie, I bet it. She thinks sleeping is a waste of time. It doesn’t make sense to her.

Capping the pen and closing the journal, he tosses them both on the nightstand, then wipes the sleep from his eyes. Next, he dons an over-sized black t-shirt to cover the still fresh scars on his back.


Come on, let’s go see if it’s her.

Reaching for his crutch, he shoos Cashmere off him, who simply rolls over happy to stay half covered in the bedspread and wag her tail while Mustafa trots off ahead. When Marcillius heads for the door, he takes on slow step at a time, refusing to hurry, their last argument replaying in his head.


If Ali’ came back, you’d find time for her. You’d probably stop trying to sleep every hour of your life away too, so she could hang on you and be under you with her constant crying. I’m your girlfriend, what about me?

He stops. He shakes his head and grinds his teeth harder hoping it’s not her.


Your brother is dead. Make her move on. There’s no reason for her to come back unless it’s because you secretly want her to.

Again the knock seeks an answer.

(feigning fatigue)

Who is it?

He braces against the answer.


It’s me.

He frowns, mistaking the voice for Laurie’s.


I knew it. She couldn’t just let me sleep.

Continuing to the door, he unlocks it and opens it as he turns back toward his bedroom.


Yes, I was sleeping. Yes, you can stay awhile if you want. No, Ali’ didn’t come back. No, she hasn’t called and I’m cool with skipping the twenty questions and arguing.



She stops just inside the doorway, careful of her twisted ankle. Her once flowing hair has been chopped short, as if cut during a fit of rage. What remains is dirty and matted. Her oversized sweats, used to hide her embarrassment for having a fully developed figure, are stained. Her presence begs to be rescued.

Hesitantly, she closes the door behind her and stands next to the coat rack as she looks up to him from under her eyebrows and watches him walk away. Wistfully, she reaches out for one comforting touch, but stops; dropping her hand and interlocking her fingers in front of herself nervously.


Are you sure it’s okay? I don’t want to cause any more fights between you and Laurie.

Stopping mid-step, he looks over his shoulder. It takes a moment for him to decide whose showing up is worse.


If I’d known it was you, I probably wouldn’t have answered. What do you want?

As he waits for her answer, lights from a passing car shines through the window, running across the hallway wall, lighting her briefly.

A concerned expression appears on his face then leaves as quickly as it comes.

Seeing the change, the hard indifference, she drops her head further. He refuses to let the meek gesture sway him.


What? No one told you to leave. You come back now and what? You expect me to rush to you? Rescue you? Save you?

The following silence becomes a weight on each, growing heavier as they both avoid eye contact. At last, Marcillius looks up, waiting for her to do the same. He holds her gaze briefly when she does.


I’m going back to sleep. Don’t make a lot of noise and—

Turning from her, he heads back to his room.


Don’t worry about Laurie and me.

As he disappears into the darkness of the hallway, she keeps watching him. With each step he takes, her posture slumps more until finally, clearly exhausted and feeling hopeless, she lazily kicks off her shoes and neatly places them between Caesar’s and his mother’s never-moving shoes. Then, as lazily, she flops her hand across the light switch.

The 100-watt bulb in the foyer offers minimal light, barely enough to show that the false aura of the perfect family still exists. The happy family pictures are all around. All is clean, neat and orderly, but she knows better. Nothing has changed, nothing will; like the dinner table set for four in a family of two.

Directing her gaze to Caesar’s doorway and drifting down the hallway filled with more family photos, she waits for him to appear, to come and sweep her up. But nothing has changed.

When she reaches the room, she stands still, vigorously rubbing her palms up and down her sweatpants, wiping the clamminess from her hands, wishing she could wipe away the past as easily.

All is in place. His evenly spaced trophies for football and basketball face the same direction as his model show cars. His bed is made, the comforter pulled taut. The large aquarium holding Mr. Benness and Mr. McClean, alligator lizards, is clean; the lizards fed. Even the framed picture of the three of them laughing and smiling with each other is still on the shelf above his headboard.


I get it, you and he are friends and all that, but he’s my little brother. You talk to him about stuff you won’t even tell me. Even my dad comments on how much time you two spend together, how close you two seem to be. It’s wrong.

She lingers on the picture briefly before moving on and skips over the framed obituary beside it, as if to do otherwise would mean accepting fault for his death. She looks to her two duffel bags instead, thrown beneath his desk; the only items out of place, out of perfect order; her clothes stuffed carelessly into them, to full to be closed.

Feeling as out of place in the room as her bags, she turns and heads for Marcillius’s room, weighted with sadness.

As she enters, Cashmere raises her head briefly from Marcillius’s chest and Mustafa rises to greet her.


I want things to be how they were when Caesar was alive. I want you to talk to me, to be my friend again. I need you. Ever since he died— I know you blame me, even if you say you don’t. That’s why I left, I can’t take the silence. I’m sorry M’. I’d trade places with him if I could.

She watches him, his relaxed, evenly paced breathing, his lack of forced indifference toward her, clearly he’s back asleep.

Willing to wait for him to wake, she goes to the wall nearest the bed and slides down it, to a sitting position. Then, she folds her hands in her lap and rocks side to side, to keep the exhaustion from the last few days from catching her.

When Mustafa sidles up to her and noses her hand, she welcomes his large frame on to her lap and hugs him. She squeezes him tight, then buries her face in his fur.

Almost instantly, feelings stuffed over the past few weeks well up until, tears fall and the pent up energy causes her rocking to start anew.

She lets go.

Then the emotions pass and the fatigue returns, gradually her grip slackens. The rocking slows ever so slightly to a stop and she nods off.

Moments later, her head lolls heavily to a side and reflex snaps it straight, startling both her and Mustafa awake. Confused and scared, she quickly looks about.

The fish are swimming about the aquarium, the water is filtering back into it. Mustafa’s weight is solidly in her lap. All of the familiar-ness of Marcillius’s room calms her, reminds her she is safe.

Relaxing, she kisses him on the forehead and strokes his far, letting her wind drift. After awhile, she stops and looks into his eyes.


They moved about two weeks ago; that’s what the man who answered the door at my parents house said. He said they told him they’d been planning the move for awhile but didn’t say where they were going.

Keeping the sadness between the two of them, she leans close to his ear.


I don’t know what to do.

(cupping his face in her hands)

What should I do?

She looks beyond Mustafa, to Marcillius’s sleeping form.


I have no one left. I know it’s my fault, I messed up, but what should I do?

Mustafa licks her, responding to the remorse in her voice, drawing her attention back to him.

When she looks deep into his eyes, he licks her again, bringing her out of her sadness. A smile splits her face.


Okay. I know you at least still love me.

She kisses him, then ruffles his fur.


But I still have to do something.

(after several seconds)

Sitting here won’t help either. Let me up.

After a moment of hesitation, Mustafa rises and lays by Cashmere.

Looking for a distraction, she stands and surveys the room. The biggest difference is the journals, there are so many. On the bookshelves a lot of them are stacked beside each other, with more laying behind statues, picture frames and knick-knacks, while others hide between books of various titles. A few lay about the room on the floor.

Bending to grab one, she notices the bottles of painkillers and anti-depressants are still on the nightstand. Three of them and a half-drunk sprite lay about the night lamp. Sighing, she tucks the journals under her arm and goes to the nightstand to pick the bottles of pills up one at a time. Each is almost empty.

She looks to Marcillius’s matted hair and the bags under his eyes. Then, she looks to Mustafa watching her.


What? If Marcillius minds my snooping, he’ll have to wake to do it.

Rolling her eyes and pursing her lips, she flashes a challenging look to him, daring him to wake, secretly willing him to wake, to speak to her.


I only want to know why he’s still spending all his time dreaming; like the waking world is all that bad. I have the right to know that much.

To prove her point, she goes to his desk and picks up a crumpled letter, snooping more.

He remains in a curled position with the comforter pulled snug around him. As she reads, she shakes her head.


See what I mean? She wastes pages worrying about me and our friendship. She should be worried about getting him better, about stopping his sleeping everyday, all day. Stop hating me when I’m at least trying. I just want to help. I don’t care about breaking the two of them up. I just want to make up for all the hurt I’ve caused him. He’s the most important person in my world. I get it now, maybe I always did.

Tossing the letter aside, she slowly scans the room. She notices more journals on his chair, beneath his pillow and one half-stuffed under his mattress.

She looks at the journal in her hands for a while before finally opening it.



Wide-eyed caught, she turns as the journal drops and watches it land flipped open on the carpeted floor. When she looks to see what he’ll say, she sees his eyes squinted closed.

He’s gripping the comforter tightly and his jaw is clenched as he fights through his dream.

She steps away from the journal and waits to see if he’ll wake.

Over time, his hand relaxes and his serene expression returns.

Waiting a few more minutes, she lets go of her held breath then bends to pick up the journal. Without thought, she goes to brush back the hair that would usually fall over her shoulder and cover her face, but stops. Though it gives her pause, she refuses to linger on it.

Instead, she grabs a magazine then returns to the wall. Hiding the journal in it as she reads, she occasionally looks up between flipping pages ensuring Marcillius’s serene expression is still in place. It remains.

Several heavily tear-stained pages draw her attention more intently. She can make out some words: scared, stuck in the blackness, the loneliness is hard, miss her but refuse to ever tell her, yet she can’t decipher the rest of his rambling.

Taped on the last five pages are newspaper clippings about people who died in their sleep. One is a woman who supposedly died of heart complications. The words below it are more legible.

She was in the tower. The Man In Purple killed her.

Immersed in the journal, she doesn’t notice Marcillius’s waking or his watching her.


You smell.

Startled, she quickly closes the magazine making sure the journal is clearly hidden. Then, she takes a step back and tucks her elbows in close to her body to hide the smell.

Ignoring her and the effect of his words on her, he turns on the night lamp and grabs his pen. To be sure that his message is clear, that he wants nothing to do with her, he keeps his face close to the journal as he jots down his newest dream.


I was going to shower, but I didn’t want to be in there and have your dad come home and not know I’m back.

She watches him write as she waits for his comment on her being back. He continues journaling without a word.


So, how are you and Laurie doing?

He still journals without a word, without a glance in her direction.


You said don’t worry about the two of you. Did you break up?

No answer. No pause. Steadily he writes, continuing to ignore her.

Fed up, she throws her hands in the air.


Are you gonna ignore me until you go back to sleep and dream away your problems?


Or, until you leave.


You’re selfish. You’re a selfish asshole.


Why? ‘Cause I won’t tell you how Laurie thinks I’m losing it, or about anything else you can use to put a foot back into my life, to feel like I need you?


I so hate you sometimes.


Well, it’s so not my job to make you happy.

Grabbing his journal and turning his back to her, he rereads his dream entry.

Alisandra, ready to scream at him, draws back her arm to throw the magazine, but rethinks it. Gradually, she begins swaying her legs side to side, faster and faster allowing her anger to build. Her grip tightens on the magazine.


That’s why I dated your brother instead of you.

Stung and surprised, he lays the journal down.


Okay. Was that your best shot to hurt me? Laurie was right, that was the biggest favor you ever did me. It’s to bad you didn’t do the same favor for Caesar. If you had found someone else, maybe he’d still be alive.

The silence thickens between the two.

She stops swaying her legs and nods knowing she’s failing.


Fine. You win. I didn’t come to argue.


Win? Win? Are you serious? This is a game to you? Everything is always about you, what you want, what you need. You’re a leech. You could care less about anyone or anything except for yourself.


I didn’t mean it like that. You know it. I know your brother’s death hurt you, I get it. You wish you could have saved him. I was there too, I wish that too, but sleeping all day, everyday that won’t fix your problems. Neither will ignoring me, or exploding on me. You’re mad at me? Okay, but you’re wrong. I care about something more than myself. I care about you. I know I shouldn’t have left, but it’s this house, your dad; even you. This fake perfect family, well I’m not perfect. I’m fucked up. I know it. The only words you would say to me were ‘not now,’ or ‘leave me alone, I’m sleeping.’ What was I supposed to do?


Leave me alone.


It’s not too late though. I didn’t need you then, I don’t need you now.


Fuck you.


No. You fucked my brother, remember?

Seeing her practically leap to her feet and rush for his bed, he rolls over casually, emphasizing his indifference for whatever she might say before she reaches him. With his back to her, he doesn’t see her tower over the bed, over him, but he feels it.


We had two dates and I told you on the first one that I wanted someone to fight for me, to fight to be in my life, not to try and save it. You’re holding a grudge because of your high morals. Well, I’m not you, have never tried to be.



Wringing the magazine feels good. With each twist, she releases more of her frustration. Before long, she’s able to breathe more calmly.

(continuing, apologetic)

I shouldn’t have got with your brother after that, but I did. I’m sorry. I messed up—I really messed up.


But why couldn’t you have just fought for me. I really cared about you, still do.

Wanting to share a moment with him, she begins to kneel, but stops.

(continuing, emphatic)

I really do care, even if you’re being an ass. So did your brother, hut you made it so hard for him, like you make it hard for everyone. It’s like you have to save everyone, be strong for everyone. That only pushes people away though and I know that has to be hard on you.

Deciding to risk his rejection, she kneels on the mattress; as close to him as she dares.


Let me be strong with you. Let me care. I can tell by how bad your dreams are something is wrong. Let me help.

She places her hand on his shoulder and squeezes slightly.

With a deadpan expression on his face, he looks over his shoulder and waits for her to remove it.


I wish you had died in the crash instead of my brother.

Her eyes make clear how she resents his saying that aloud, how she hates herself for agreeing with him. Exasperated, she hurls both the magazine and journal at his head, hoping to hurt him as much as she hurts.

He doesn’t duck.


Walking down the street, several older boys wave to Mr. Baptiste as he turns the keys and unlocks his front door.


How you boys doing?

(in unison)

Fine Mr. Baptiste.


That’s good.


Be careful walking the middle of the Street like that; all you need is for a car to come speeding blindly around a corner.

The group nods their understanding and waves again as they cross to the sidewalk.

Nodding in turn, he removes the keys and shoulders open the door slowly, carefully pushing back the weight of the dogs as they excitedly jump against it to greet him.


Cashmere stands with her paws against Marcillius’s dad’s chest, pinning him against the door, licking him enthusiastically while Mustafa vies for attention, nudging in where he can.

Trying to greet the dogs as much as calm them, Marcillius’s dad kneels and pats them on their heads while his eyes adjust to the dim light. The house is dark and quiet except for the stream of light coming through Marcillius’s partially open door and the dog’s heavy panting.

As he stands, the light from Marcillius’s room dims briefly; someone’s walking in front of the night lamp.

He heads for it, the dogs following, alternately trying to jump on him and force more attention from him. Their nails clacking on the wooden floor.

(conspiring with the dogs)

Let’s get him before he goes back to sleep.

(to Marcillius, loud)

Is this a rare sighting? Is my son actually awake?

The light turns off.


Come on Marcillius, stay up, spend some time with your pops. It won’t kill you.

A floorboard creaking in his room is the only response.


Why are you always in such a rush to get back to sleep?

The question becomes irrelevant as he turns on the overhead light.

Marcillius is lying in his bed holding a magazine and a journal. Alisandra is a few feet from his bed looking out of place and caught.

An accusation immediately fills the air. You. You shouldn’t be here and he knew not to let you in.

He gives Marcillius time to explain her presence, but when no explanation comes quick enough, he begins looking back and forth between the two.


What were you thinking boy? A new sad story, that why she’s back?

Marcillius slides up in the bed, pulling himself to a sitting position and simply stares back at his father. The look he gives is a question; what answer do you want?

Alisandra knows no answer is good enough. Each move she makes reflects that as she inches from his line of sight and keeps her eyes directed at the carpet.


Caesar would be so proud of you.

Shaking his head, he turns to leave, but decides against it. Not this time. A line must be drawn between the two of them.

Sensing the difference in his father, Marcillius’s expression becomes obstinate. Neither looks as if compromising is an option.


She has to leave. You’re starting to return to normal.


She can hear you. She—


She’s supposed to! There’s no need for her to come back around and break you and Laurie up. Laurie is a good girl.

(offended, misunderstood)

Besides, you said you were happy she was gone. If I’d known that before, I’d have asked her to leave sooner.

Embarrassed, Marcillius avoids direct eye contact, glancing at Alisandra peripherally.

Her hurt is obvious as she continues to look at the carpet, an effort to hide her tears. With her wildly uneven hair and marred eyeliner, she looks like a prized doll that is longer cherished.


That’s because she wouldn’t let me sleep, that’s all I wanted. That’s all I want now. She wasn’t and isn’t trying to break anyone up. She needed me is all. It’s no big deal.


It’s no big deal she left without a word? That you were worried?

Alisandra sneaks a peek at Marcillius feeling guilt as much as joy for his worrying about her.
When their eyes meet, they share a look, an apology, support for one another.

(seeing their exchange)

Now she’s going to be a project? Someone for you to save? That’s why I got you and your brother those dogs, so you could save them.

Fed up and wanting to avoid pushing Marcillius to dig in even more, he shakes his head.


In fact, I’m done with this. I don’t want her here and that’s final. I told your brother her stay was temporary and it got prolonged. After his death, I felt bad, I couldn’t tell her it was time to leave, but she left and I want her to stay gone. Let her parents worry about her and I’ll worry about you.


You don’t have to worry about me. We’ll both leave.

He rises without the help of his crutches and hops to his closet, He sets one suitcase outside the closet and carries the other with him.


The hell you will! This isn’t a game.

Marcillius’s defiant stance is as strong as his father’s lock of consternation.

(as his father reaches for the suitcase)

You didn’t stop mom from leaving, but you’ll stop me huh?

Marcillius’s frame lacks the strength his much larger father has. He’s unable to keep his father from grabbing the suitcase, or his flinging it back into the closet; and a glare from him prevents his attempting to retrieve it.


You can’t stop me.

An arching eyebrow suggests he can and will stop him.


I’ll leave without my stuff; when you’re not looking if I have to.

Daring him to try, he steps closer and towers over his son.


Stop! Stop! Stop! I’ll leave.

Marcillius watches her run out of the room, than looks to his dad. His defiance doesn’t waver.


Go ahead. Hit me or whatever. Get it over with so I can hurry and leave with her.


Stop talking crazy. I’ve never hit you in your life.


Then let me go Dad. I’m going with her. She needs me.


Caesar would never—


Used to be mom would never.

Exasperated, he steps back and sighs.


Listen. I’m sorry, you know I love you. You know I do, but what’s come over you? This isn’t you?


This house, I hate it. It never changes, you never change, you never let me change unless it’s to be more like your beloved Caesar. Why do you dislike me? Hate me? Because I sleep? I sleep for a reason, but you wouldn’t understand. Whatever the reason, it’s okay. I can lose you. I can lose everyone. I won’t lose her though. At least she needs me and no one else wants to help her. We’re friends, good friends, nothing more. But if we were more, well your perfect son stole her from me. I dated her first.


I love you. I thought I was doing you a favor.

Shaking his head, Marcillius grabs his crutches and his wallet, then heads after Alisandra. Before he can make it out of the room, his father grabs him by the arm and stops him.


Is it really that bad living here? I’ve done all I can for you. When your mom died, you were so young you can’t remember much, but you cried almost daily. You sat on the front steps for three weeks afterwards, waiting for her to come home You would have sat out there longer if I’d allowed it. You couldn’t stand to see her gone, so I kept all of her belongings as they were so you’d have a sense of her, though it saddened your brother and it really hurt me. Yet, you still missed her. You missed her more than me and your brother. Well, we were alive. Didn’t we count? I never got it. We were still living, but you couldn’t tell. All you wanted to do was to sleep and cry. Caesar couldn’t get it either because he knew. He was older, he remembered all of the stuff she did to him, to you. You still love her and miss her more than us. Maybe now that your brother is gone, maybe you’ll miss him too finally.

(loud enough for Alisandra to hear)

The both of you might as well stay the night. It’s to late to be going anywhere, but I want her gone in the morning and not before we talk about what happened to her, who did it and where they stay either.

(back to Marcillius)

I’d like for you to stay, but if you’re old enough to disrespect me, perhaps it’s time you look at leaving too.

Mr. Baptiste leaves Marcillius in the hail and passes Alisandra coming out of Caesar’s room with her duffel bags. He heads upstairs.

Marcillius and Alisandra watch each other as the dogs follow up the stairs. Her uncertainty over what to say is clear. His wanting to avoid talking for now is also clear.


Listen, I’m really tired and I need to get back to sleep. In the morning, I’ll go to my father and get him to change his mind. If he doesn’t, I’ll leave with you. Okay?


You mean get back to your dreaming?


I don’t want to argue.


No arguing, but let me in, I want to help. Give me a chance.



The look on his face is a curious mixture of fear and an attempt to withhold something.


I can only do this by myself.


The sound of troubled sleep interrupts the peacefulness of the filtering water.

It’s Marcillius.

The fluorescent lighting from the aquarium casts its soft glow across his features, contrasting with the pained expression; the clenched jaw, squenched eyes and the lone tear on his cheek.

Tossing about in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position is of no help. His grip on the comforter remains steadfast, the tenseness in his muscles remain ready to spring.

Without waiting, he shoots straight up, into a sitting position, as he lashes out.



Marcillius’s eyes grow large as they dart about the room frantic with fear. His breaths are ragged. Perspiration drips down his forehead and neck. Adrenaline courses through his veins forcing his heart to thump rapidly.


Mustafa, Cashmere, come here!

The weathered steamer trunk, the stereo cabinet, the twin, six-foot tall bookshelves, Alisandra sitting cross-legged beside his bed watching; him he looks from one to the other, then to the closet.

(deep, raspy, threatening)

You won’t keep escaping me. Soon, I’ll be able to come for you.

(muddled, distant)

You okay?

The dogs come to him as Alisandra leans forward. Each appear slow moving, disoriented. Each appears unaware of the voice.

(angry, defiant)

I’m not afraid of you.

With the comforter still gripped tight and pulled close, he looks to the shadows Repeatedly his eyes come back to the dark maw of the closet.

The other’s eyes follow his.


I’m not afraid.

Cashmere woofs and stands at the ready as Mustafa walks toward the closet. With each step, the tension grows, as if someone or something will emerge from the closet at the last possible moment.

Marcillius keeps his eyes to the closet: to the dark, empty closet.

(still muddled as Mustafa lunges toward closet and woofs)

You okay?

Cashmere rushes toward the open closet as well, stopping short and barking.

Startled, Alisandra isn’t sure which to watch; the dogs, the closet, or Marcillius’s tensed state. The closet seems the wisest choice.


M’? Talk to me.

All eyes remain on the closet, but nothing emerges from the dark.

In time the dogs calm and Marcillius leans back on his elbows. He looks to her, then one last time to the empty closet. Soon, he realizes the dream is over.


Are you okay?

He nods he is all right.


Don’t tell me you need to get back to sleep either; not after that.

Choosing to focus solely on her, instead of the closet or his dream, he takes his time calming down. Eventually he shakes off the nightmare and smiles. Though her hair is still uneven, it’s clean and the marred eyeliner is gone.

She’s showered and changed into less baggy clothing.


You don’t stink anymore.


Your dream, don’t try to change the subject.


Well, you don’t.

Thinking it over, she decides to let him change the subject for now.

(tucking an uneven strand of hair behind ear)

You have no game.

Gradually the two speak more freely and jokes are shared. Time between them seems like times of old, lying in opposite directions on his bed with flashlights and casting shadow figures on the wall, their fingers interlocked in awkward gestures.

While she’s looking away, he grabs a cut-out and casts a perfect silhouette of a dog’s head. She’s awed until she spots the cut-out and playfully punches him.

He puts his smelly foot beneath her nose. She drinks water and spouts a stream soaking his foot.

He tickles her. She covers her mouth and her laughter, occasionally tickling him hack. Alternately they look to the door for sounds of his father’s walking.

In time, worn out; but happy, they resume talking, sitting side by side. He shares his letters from Laurie. He flips through dream journals and eventually books on dreaming. When the two finally move to the computer, it is late into the night. They look at sites where others discuss their dreams. He scrolls through pages, pointing out articles.

She grabs his hand, stopping it abruptly. She uses it to move the page back to a segment about paired dreaming. The page is full of accounts from those who’ve experienced paired dreaming; their experiences and how they achieved them.


That’s it. There’s no way you can say no to me either. If it’s only dreaming, then show me why it’s so wonderful. And if it’s more …




I can do it. I know I can. Let me try at least.

She moves close to him, near enough to prove how much she wants to try.


What about your nightmares?

(moving closer, her face inches from his)

I can do it. I promise.


It’s only been the last three weeks or so I’ve been able to go there regularly. Before that, it was rare. You probably won’t be able to for awhile.


Never know unless we try.

(placing her hand on his)

I’m worried for you and I want to try. I never had your back the way I should have. I tried sometimes, but you’d close down—Not your fault! I’m only saying, no matter what now, I want to be there. I know you love Laurie. She’s your girlfriend and I don’t want to break that up, but she’ll never be there for you like I will. I promise.

Pulling from her, he turns his back to her.


I’ve been getting stuck. I can’t really explain, but it’s not safe for you.


Yet you keep doing it?


What are others doing when they get stuck?


They’re not getting stuck. One guy said he could help though, that it’s about the black door, but he was weird. I talked to him twice, but stopped ‘cause he kept talking about how important it was to meet me.


Stop dreaming then.


I can’t. If I do—I can’t.

Spinning him around, to face her, she places her face inches from his again.


Maybe I can keep you from getting stuck.


Over the squawking of sea gulls and the breaking waves, Alisandra’s and Marcillius’s laughter can be heard as they hurry about the beach. With each turn, he points out yellow, crab-like creatures skittering across the white sands, a dinner table romantically set for two appearing moments before, her hair long and full again; as each new wonder appears they point at it and laugh anew.

With the whole beach to themselves, they run and laugh well into the late afternoon.


The pair break the surface of the water, Marcillius wiping water from his eyes and Alisandra whipping her long hair back and out of her face. An idea comes to mind.


I want you to meet my mom.


I’d like that.

Wading closer to him, she hugs him and holds onto him happy in the moment, but it doesn’t last. Looking ashore, beyond the dunes, to a distant rise changes her expression. It becomes apprehensive, worried.


It’s like she’s really alive here. She knows things. She told me.

As he’s talking, she notices her house appear and the person in the upstairs window. The person waits a bit, waves, then walks away.


That’s what else I can’t wait to show you; my house here is laid out. It’s thirty times larger—

Noticing Alisandra’s limpness in his arms, he stops speaking

(looking at her)

What’s wrong? You okay?


I want to leave M’. Can we?

Letting go of her so she can swim ahead, he looks in the same direction as her. He sees the larger, orange, crab-like creatures chasing the yellow ones, the dunes beyond them, the hills in the distance and an abandoned looking home midway up it. None of it registers as a reason for her change.

He shrugs it off.


Yeah, sure we can leave.


I mean, I want to wake up. Right now.

When she looks back, she realizes she’s alone. She looks all around her. He’s nowhere. He’s not underwater, he’s not ashore, he’s nowhere.

Frightened, she calls out for him. With no response, her terror rises She repeatedly calls out for him, for anyone as she swims ashore.

(to herself walking up the beach)

Wake up! Do it. This is only a dream, a bad dream.

It’s not working. Nothing she does wakes her, or brings her close to finding help. Praying there is a clue to the way out on the other side of the rise, she runs up it.

A highway void of traffic runs forever left and as long to the right with her house across from it.

No longer midway up the hill, her house sits like it’s always been there; an invitation, close, near for her.

As she runs to it, the sky slowly begins darkening.

She knocks a few times on the back door and calls out for help There is no answer, so she tries the doorhandle. The door creaks open.


Looking around, most of the kitchenwares are gone or have been packed in boxes and stacked high. By the looks, the house has been this way for weeks. A layer of dust covers the boxes, the kitchen table, the floor and the white telephone cord running into the living room.
Squatting,she pulls the cord and hopefully the phone with it while she listens for any sounds.



Hoping against an answer, she creeps along, pulling the cord, following it through the living room, up the stairs and to her bedroom door, trying to avoid being seen.

She hurries into her room and closes the door behind her quietly. It’s empty cxcept for the phone in the middle of the floor. When she picks it up to dial for help, she can hear Marcillius’s calling out to her over the line.


Where are you?


I want to wake up. How do I wake up M’?

Lightning flashes and thunder crashes at the same time the phone goes dead. As she tries over and over without success to get a dial tone, the room darkens, leaving her feeling small, suffocatingly small, the walls becoming tighter, closer.

She screams.

In response, ravens caw and flutter about as they enter the room.

She ducks them, crouching low and covering her head, continually screaming.

Rats and roaches spread out and race around the room.

Thunder crashes louder as if destroying the downstair’s doors.

More and more beetles, millipedes, spiders and hissing cockroaches fill the room. They crawl up walls, through cracks in the wooden floor and in through the window sills.

Alisandra screams again, louder than the ravens cawing and flapping, the thundering, the door’s banging and the flies buzzing.

Lightning touches down successively showing maggots, bloodworms and thousands of flies.

When the bedroom door is kicked open, flies swarm out as do rats and roaches. Marcillius runs through them and scoops Alisandra up in his arms.

(out of breath)

The man in purple, he’s here. We’ve got to get out of here.

Chunks of the ceiling crash down scattering bugs and dust while floorboards erupting upward fling rats and roaches into the air.

Marcillius and Alisandra race out the door covered in insects. Debris and a series of beams falling splits the two in the hallway.

He tries to get past the blockade, but the criss-crossing beams are to heavy to move and to close to squeeze between. He’s trapped. He realizes it at the same moment the three men come through a door untouched by the damage.

He tries to hinder their getting to him, throwing what he can at them while keeping their attention drawn to him.


Run Ali’. I’ll be okay, I promise.

Seeing her indecision, he chucks a piece of plaster at her feet

(continuing, angry)


More of the floor gives way at the same time The Man In Purple comes through the undamaged door. He sees Marcillius, then he sees Alisandra. He leers at her as if finding a welcome surprise.


Over here! You want me, come get me!

Seeing Alisandra’s tripping backward over debris and The Man In Purple’s pulling out his knife, he renews his efforts to get through the blockade and to get to her without thought to the three men.

(shouting over thunder)

I know about the tower. I know about the murders too. Those people didn’t die naturally in their sleep. I know it all. I even know your real name.


And you’ll never leave.

He closes in on Alisandra as she regains her footing. Marcillius is helpless, but to watch.

She doesn’t see the floor behind her is gone, or the snakes covering the kitchen floor beneath her-

As she falls backward, The Man In Purple slices across her stomach. She crashes through the kitchen table.


Alisandra wakes terrified, screaming. When she looks beside her, Marcillius is breathing shallow. The pained expression from earlier firmly in place again.

She shakes him repeatedly and yells his name, but he doesn’t flinch.



This is very serious Alisandra. The doctors aren’t sure what’s wrong and they can’t wake him. So, what do you mean he’s stuck in the dream?


You have to believe me, it’s true. He’s in danger.

Unzipping her jacket, she lifts her shirt and shows him the cut across her stomach caked with dried blood.


I don’t know how much time he has before they get him.


Are you sure this wasn’t some failed suicide-pact thing? You didn’t give him some pills did you?


I didn’t give him any pills, and Marcillius wasn’t just being weird either and sleeping alot. He was trying to stop The Man In Purple from murdering people in their dreams. He’s in danger Mr. Baptiste.

At the end of his rope with her, he washes his hands over his face frustratedly.


I can help. I can go back, I have to go back. If you can get them to let me be near him, I think if I sleep near him that’ll help.


He’s in critical condition and no one has a clue to why, or what to do for him and you think I’ll let you near him? No. You’ll never see him again if it’s the last thing I do.